We weren’t supposed to go to Florence. We had such a simple route planned, it was supposed to be so easy. We were going to leave Ljubljana, stop for a few hours in the beautiful Venice and then head over to Genova, and from Genova we would have a long train trip all the way up to Paris. See? It sounds so simple. We’d even got organised and booked a Megabus back to Cardiff from Paris. We’d even booked our hostel in Genova as well. We were so proud of ourselves for being so organised, and then everything just kind of…went wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. We were so certain that everything was going to run smoothly. But it didn’t. It really, really didn’t. Even writing this is bringing back horrific memories. So this post is dedicated to one day/night. The one horrific trip from Ljubljana to Genova. The one horrific trip which subsequently destroyed our organised route home and forced us to spend yet more money on a plane ticket. But more on that later. Here’s to Genova! (not).
Okay, so it started innocently enough. We found ourselves in Venice train station, ready to explore the water city. We left the train station and were greeted by lots of rain and lots of buildings and not a lot of water. We were confused. We walked up the street, telling ourselves that maybe, if we kept walking, the water and the canals would just magically appear. They didn’t. We resisted the temptation to ask someone where the water was, instead turning to the wonder that is Google Maps, therefore discovering that we were in fact in Venice City, not Venice. That explained a lot.
We finally made it to Venice where it was absolutely tipping it down with rain. I’d been to Venice before and was enthralled by the beautiful canals and the tipsy-topsy buildings but this time, in the rain, it didn’t seem quite so magical. We ate in a restaurant (an extremely expensive restaurant) where we were practically pushed out by the staff once we had finished eating before wandering off to check out the rest of the city. Venice is beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but it was raining and we are incapable of reading directions correctly so we ended up wandering around random streets and walking over gorgeous bridges until we eventually found our way back to where we started.
We’d checked our bags into the luggage cupboard at Venice City train station and had to get them out at 6pm, however our train to Genova was at 10pm. So after making our way back to Venice City train station, we got our bags and set up camp on the train station floor, eating our snacks and reading our books. This was all fine and dandy until we got approached by various creepy old guys who couldn’t take no for an answer when we kindly rejected their incessant offers of “coffee? coffee? come on, coffee?”. Ummmm, no thanks kind sir, we are quite happy here on the floor eating our slices of ham and drinking our water.
Our train finally arrived and we made it to our stop over in Verona where we had to wait 2 hours for our connection train to Genova. “Okay” we thought “we can survive this”.
We set up camp again, this time inside the warmth of the waiting room on the platform (it wasn’t warm at all. It was freezing. Really freezing). We wrapped as many layers around ourselves as we could, set an alarm and attempted to get some sleep. Getting some sleep whilst in a platform waiting room in the middle of the night is extremely difficult, yet we still sprang up at 2.15 with the sudden realisation that our connecting train was in five minutes. We panicked, grabbed all our belongings and ran like the hell to find the departure board. We found it, only to discover that our connecting train was not on the board. It wasn’t anywhere. It was cancelled. We screamed internally and quickly looked up other trains to Genova, and found that there was on at 7.30am. Five hours from now. We cried internally. We headed back to one of the waiting rooms and set up camp for the third time and again attempted to get some sleep. We made it through to 5.30am feeling disgusting, tired, crabby and hungry. We then discovered, upon looking at the departure board, that the 7.30am train was also not running. At this point, we were too exhausted to even cry internally, so we sat back down on some seats and wondered what to do next. Being a fairly big train station, you would have thought that there would be some things open. But apparently not. So we sat there tweedling our thumbs, waiting for the ticket office and for the loos to open. Finally, at around 6am they opened (thanks for that) and whilst I ran off to empty my bladder, my friend headed to the ticket office to get some advice on how we should get to Genova when there seemed to be no trains. After a conversation with a right moody mare of a man who told her that getting to Milan was fine, but from Milan, he wasn’t sure of the trains so we’d have to see, she made the executive decision of crossing Genova off our lists and booked two train tickets to Florence instead. And then finally, finally, after more than 23 hours of waiting around since Ljubljana with very little sleep and very little food, we were seated on a train heading to a destination we knew and we loved. After booking a hostel whilst on the train, we nestled back in our seats and relaxed properly. Of course, on arriving in Florence and walking at least 45 minutes across the city in the streaming sun and with massive backpacks, we discovered that we could not check in to our hostel until 3pm.
That was hard. That nearly put me over the edge.
But after a quick freshen up, quick check in of our bags and a quick drink, we shook ourselves off and went to experience the beautiful city.
More on Firenze in the next post!
Sidenote: okay so I just read this back and it doesn’t sound that bad. But it was, I promise. It really, really was. Moreover, the basic thing we took from this lovely experience, was that we shouldn’t be organised and book things in advance as when we do that, everything goes wrong. Screw organisation, let’s just go with the flow!